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Global Economy

Deutsche Bahn makes a profit again

Deutsche Bahn posted an operating profit of around 876 million euros in the first half of the year. In the same period a year ago, there was still a minus of more than one billion euros. Sales increased by more than 28 percent to around 28 billion euros. "The trend reversal was successful: Demand is booming and we're back in the black," said Deutsche Bahn boss Richard Lutz today.

The strong result was primarily driven by the business of the logistics subsidiary DB Schenker. With land, air and sea freight, Schenker benefits from the scarce freight capacities worldwide. The company can therefore charge significantly higher prices.

Debate on sale of Schenker

In the first six months, the international DB freight forwarding subsidiary made an operating profit of almost 1.2 billion euros. The logistics subsidiary made as much profit in the first half of 2022 as in the whole of 2021 – and that was already a record result.

The good result is likely to further fuel the debate about a possible sale of the business: The Greens and FDP in particular see the international logistics business as a foreign body at the railways. A sale could also remove part of the mountain of debt of around 30 billion euros. On the other hand, the profit shows that Schenker is an important pillar for the group. Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has not yet committed himself to Schenker's future.

More travelers on the way

In addition, Deutsche Bahn's long-distance traffic has recovered after the Corona crisis, despite the many delays. According to its own statements, the group recorded more than 59 million travelers in long-distance traffic alone in the first half of the year. That was more than twice as many as in the same period last year. However, the current figures are still a long way from the pre-crisis level: In the first six months of 2019, Deutsche Bahn claims to have recorded almost 72 million long-distance passengers.

In regional transport, demand rose by 60 percent to around 725 million passengers. Here, especially from June, the 9-euro ticket should have further increased the occupancy of the trains. Both the train drivers' union GDL and the railway and transport union EVG spoke out against an extension of the ticket. "The workforce has reached the load limit and in some cases exceeded it," said EVG Vice President Martin Burkert. In view of this overload, the ticket cannot be extended.

With the ticket, which is actually supposed to relieve commuters, an additional rush of travelers was ensured, said GDL boss Claus Weselsky on rbb Inforadio. "That's not good for the system, because it's already being driven to wear out. Now we're also completely overloaded."

Delays are increasing

The railway network, which is dilapidated and overloaded in many places, is currently being renovated in many places – numerous construction sites are slowing down traffic. According to Bahn, only 69.6 percent of long-distance trains reached their destination on time in the first half of the year. "In the first six months of the previous year it was still 79.5 percent," said Deutsche Bahn. A train is considered punctual as long as it does not arrive at its destination more than six minutes late.

CEO Lutz said that the rail infrastructure could not keep up with the increase in traffic: "More congestion on the rails and delays are the result". Quality and punctuality are currently "unacceptable". That is why the railways and the federal government continued to expand the heavily used network. A general refurbishment of the busiest corridors is scheduled to begin in 2024.

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